The title of Japan’s most famous dog undisputedly goes to Hachikō, whose incredible story has been passed on for generations through books and films, even getting a Hollywood adaptation. Compared to him, Chirori the Therapy Dog is more than a bit obscure, even to the general Japanese public, but pay Tsukijigawa-Ginza Park a visit and visitors will find a lifelike sculpture dedicated to the dog.
A mixed-breed dog born circa 1992, Chirori was found at a garbage dump in Matsudo with a disability in her hind leg and five puppies all abandoned by her abusive owner. She was nearly put down then, but at the suggestion of blues singer Toru Oki, she was given a chance to be a therapy dog, unprecedented in Japan at that time.
Chirori proved to be very hardworking and was certified by the International Therapy Dog Association after only six months’ training, when it would require an average dog about two and a half years. Thus, she became Japan’s very first therapy dog, helping many people and paving the way for a new form of welfare.
When she passed away from mammary cancer in 2006, dog lovers and welfare workers alike worked together to donate a bronze sculpture of Chirori and her puppies to the park, unveiling it about a year later.
Know Before You Go
Tsukijigawa-Ginza Park can be found on one side of Mannen Bridge, across the street from the Togeki theater.